Greatest Jump Skiers All Time

The 10 Greatest Men’s Jumpers of All Time, Ranked


The 10 Greatest Men’s Jumpers of All Time, Ranked

Greatest Jump Skiers All Time

Ranking the best male jumpers of all time.


Top 10 Rankings

In the realm of waterski jumping, a select group of exceptional athletes have left a significant mark on the sport. From record-breaking jumps to dominant displays on the professional circuit, these jumpers have showcased their raw talent, determination, and passion for the sport, earning their places among the greatest of all time. In this article, we count down the ten greatest jump skiers in history, celebrating their remarkable achievements and the legacy they’ve built on the water.

‘Greatest Of’ lists in any sport are inherently subjective and water skiing is no exception. There’s no definitive checklist to crown someone as the absolute best. Every fan out there has their own opinion. But decisions had to be made. We proudly present our picks for the greatest male jumpers in the history of competitive water skiing. So sit back, enjoy, and maybe even debate a little over our choices—after all, that’s the fun of it!

Scot Ellis Waterski Jumping

Scot Ellis performs a jump on Lake Grew in October 2011 (image: The Ledger)

10. Scot Ellis

No list would be complete without Scot “The Rocketman” Ellis, whose career spanned an impressive five decades. His extraordinary talent was evident from a young age when he clinched overall and slalom victories at the 1988 U17 World Championships on the Yarra River. Stepping onto the professional circuit in 1990, Ellis swiftly made his mark, securing the season championship of the 1990 Michelob Dry Waterski Tour. Throughout the 1990s, he was a mainstay on the pro tour, winning over 10 individual tour stops and the 1994 U.S. Open. Ellis thrived in the electrifying atmosphere and challenging conditions of the Yarra River, claiming multiple Moomba Masters jump titles on his return visits as a professional.

Alongside Bruce Neville, he pioneered the Ski Fly discipline in the late nineties, leading to its inclusion at the U.S. Masters and on the U.S. Pro Water Ski and Wakeboard Tour. From 1990 until his retirement in 2021, Ellis remained a prominent fixture on the professional circuit, consistently reaching the finals and leaving a lasting legacy on the sport.

Wayne Grimditch Jump Water Ski

Image: IWWF Hall of Fame

9. Wayne Grimditch

Fondly remembered as the iconic voice of professional waterskiing, Grimditch was the frontman of TV coverage on ESPN and USA Network throughout the 1980s and 1990s. A household name in America in the 1970s, he solidified his fame by clinching victory in the 1978 Superstars, a televised competition featuring top athletes competing in sports outside their own (other winners include O.J. Simpson and Herschel Walker). Grimditch featured on ever World Championships jump podium from 1969 to 1975, capturing world titles in 1969 and 1975 alongside two bronze medals. At the U.S. Masters he was a 4-time champion, including an impressive three consecutive victories from 1974 to 1976. He also secured the U.S. national championship in 1975 and the Moomba Masters title in 1973. Pushing the boundaries of the sport, Grimditch broke the world record twice, holding the record for an impressive seven-year stretch during the 1970s. Beyond his athletic achievements, Grimditch had a significant impact on the world of waterskiing as an ambassador for the sport.

Mike Suyderhoud Water Ski Jump

Image: USA-WWF

8. Mike Suyderhoud

The burly Californian was an incredible competitor, excelling across all three events, but it was in the jump event where his talents truly shone. Suyderhoud was the first man to reach the 50 meter mark, breaking the world record twice and maintaining it for a three-year span. A 2-time world jump champion, he claimed victory in 1971 and 1977, while also securing a silver medal in 1967 and a bronze in 1975. Domestically, Suyderhoud won five national championships and four U.S. Masters titles in jump, including an impressive streak of three consecutive titles from 1967 to 1969. Furthermore, His visits to Melbourne yielded back-to-back Moomba Masters titles in 1968 and 1969. During an era with limited major tournaments, Suyderhoud won everything there was to win. After his illustrious competitive career, he transitioned into one of the most sought-after coaches in the world, continuing his legacy in the sport he helped shape.

Carl Roberge Jump Crash

Carl Roberge USA at the Weltcup Wasserski in Luebeck, Germany (Image: Lutz Bongarts)

7. Carl Roberge

Originally from Canada, the Roberges emigrated to California when Carl was only two years old. He became a six-time US team member, contributing significantly to his adopted country’s success in securing five consecutive world championships from 1981 to 1989. Throughout the late eighties and nineties, Roberge was a prominent figure on the professional circuit, amassing an impressive record of over 30 pro tour stop victories. His peak performance occurred in the mid-nineties, where he achieved back-to-back pro tour season championships in 1995 and 1996. Notably, he had an unbeaten season with eight tour stop victories in 1996, secured four consecutive U.S. Masters titles from 1994 to 1997, and earned the runner-up position at the 1995 World Championships.

Bruce Neville IWWF Hall of Fame

Image: IWWF Hall of Fame

6. Bruce Neville

The Australian master, who was at the forefront of men’s jumping during the fastest period of change in the sport’s history. His career began with 72-inch skis towed by hand-driven outboard boats and finished with skis over 90 inches, PerfectPass speed control, and the extraordinary power of Ski Fly boats. During this period, he broke the world jump record on three separate occasions. His achievements include two world championships, with victories in 1991 in Austria and 1995 in France, as well as a bronze medal in 1989. Adding to his accolades, he claimed the U.S. Masters championship in both 1990 and 1993. A consistent force on the pro tour, he amassed an impressive record of over 30 individual tour stop victories. Neville clinched the season champion title on the breakaway PAWS Budget Rent a Car Waterski Tour in 1990, the Budweiser Water Ski Tour in 1993, and the Café de Columbia Water Ski World Cup in 1997. The perennial crowd favorite at the Moomba Masters, Neville’s jumping propelled him to five consecutive overall titles from 1991 to 1995.

Mike Hazelwood European Water Ski Champion

Michael Hazelwood jumping at the 1981 Iron Man Water Ski Classic (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

5. Mike Hazelwood

The lone European on this list, Hazelwood’s place among the greatest jumpers of all time was never in question. A trailblazer in the sport, he made history by becoming the first man to jump 60 meters and the second man to jump 200 feet, breaking the world record three times and holding it for a total of five years during the 1980s. Representing Great Britain with distinction, Hazelwood competed at eight consecutive world championships, securing back-to-back world jump titles in 1979 and 1981, in addition to claiming a bronze in 1983 and a silver in 1987. A true force in European skiing, he was a 7-time European jump champion.

Hazelwood was one of the biggest names on the Coors Light Water Ski Tour throughout the 1980s. In 1984, he claimed the inaugural season championship with five consecutive tour stop victories to close out the season. After narrowly finishing as runner up in 1985, he clinched back-to-back season championships in 1986 and 1987. Hazelwood’s dominance was exemplified by his six U.S. Masters jump champion titles, including an impressive streak of four consecutive titles from 1984 to 1987. Additionally, he was a frequent jump champion at the Moomba Masters, with his jumping prowess serving as the foundation for an extraordinary five consecutive overall titles from 1977 to 1981. A household name in England, Hazelwood was honored by Queen Elizabeth II at the end of his career with the title of MBE, “Member of the British Empire.”

Ryan Dodd waterskiing in Palm Bay, Fla. (Image: Mountain View Today)

4. Ryan Dodd

Hailing from rural Alberta, Ryan Dodd’s journey from a farm boy to an elite athlete in the world of jump skiing has been nothing short of remarkable. Over the past decade, Dodd has proven to be virtually unbeatable in the jump event. Following podium finishes at the World Championships in 2009 and 2013, he elevated his game to unprecedented heights, securing four consecutive world titles from 2015 to 2021. In 2017, Dodd etched his name in the history books by setting the world jump record, a record that has remained unbroken for an impressive six-year period. He has dominated the professional circuit, winning over 60% of tournaments he has entered since 2015. This dominance earned him five consecutive years as the number 1 ranked elite jumper from 2015 to 2019, and in 2022, he topped the leaderboard in the Waterski Pro Tour. Among his list of professional victories, Dodd boasts five U.S. Masters titles and four Moomba Masters titles, showcasing his skill in all conditions

Based solely on winning percentage, Dodd has a claim to sit atop these rankings. However, a combination of a smaller pool of jump tournaments and absence due to injury in recent seasons has put an asterisk next to his dominance. The youngest skier on this list, it remains to be seen where he will finish up at the end of his career.

Image: Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

3. Jaret Llewellyn

The diminutive Canadian undoubtedly ranks among the greatest overall skiers of all time, but his incredible jumping ability was the cornerstone of his success. As the first man to surpass 70 meters (230 feet), he broke the jump world record three times throughout his illustrious career. A regular on the professional circuit since the early-1990s, Llewellyn was the season champion of the 1998 and 1999 Café de Columbia World Cup. Even in the twilight of his career from 2005 to 2009, he remarkably finished in the top 3 at two-thirds of the events he entered. Llewellyn boasts four world jump championships (1997, 1999, 2001, and 2005) and achieved two runner-up finishes (2007 & 2009). He is also a three-time U.S. Open champion, and a frequent Moomba Masters champion, with three consecutive victories from 2000 to 2002, along with back-to-back victories in 2008 and 2009.

Jaret dominated during the Ski Fly era in the early 2000s, winning four out of the six years that Ski Fly was held at the U.S. Masters and the season championship of the 2001 U.S. Pro Water Ski and Wakeboard Tour (the only year that all jump events were Ski Fly). His world record of 299 feet appeared as if it would never be touched after the discipline faded into oblivion, but was eventually broken 15 years later.

Sammy Duvall jumping at the 1987 World Championships.

Sammy Duvall jumping at the 1987 World Championships.

2. Sammy Duvall

Hailing from Greenville, South Carolina, Duvall held No. 1 world ranking in either jump or overall for eleven consecutive seasons from 1983 to 1993. Alongside his sister Camille, the Duvall siblings became iconic figures in the world of professional water skiing during its golden era. Duvall’s domination in jumping on the U.S. pro tour remains unparalleled, securing the season champion title an impressive six times between 1985 and 1994, and accumulating over 40 individual tour stop victories. Additionally, from 1979 to 1993, he secured six U.S. Masters titles and three U.S. Open titles. At the Moomba Masters, he picked up three overall titles on the back of his strong jumping performances.

As a two-time world jump champion, Duvall showcased his talent on the global stage, winning the inaugural World Games in 1981 and achieving World Championships gold in Sweden in 1983 and in England in 1987. The latter victory is particularly memorable, as it marked a crucial moment in one of the sport’s tightest-ever Overall competitions, where he needed to win the jump event to surpass Australia’s Mick Neville. Remarkably, Duvall’s retirement from amateur events after the 1987 worlds meant he never competed at a World Championships during his peak as a jumper.

While Glenn Thurlow and Hazelwood may have preceded him in breaking the 200-foot barrier, Duvall’s achievements were no less extraordinary. He broke the world jump record six times throughout his career, holding the record for an impressive seven years during the 1990s, adding 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) to the existing record. His contributions to the sport have left an indelible mark, solidifying his status as one of the greatest waterski jumpers in history.

Freddy Krueger Waterski Jumping

Image: Orlando Sentinel

1. Freddy Krueger

Born in Decatur, Illinois, nine years before his name would forever become associated with A Nightmare on Elm Street, Frederick August Krueger IV, better known as “the Nightmare”, stands as the only man to win professional titles in four different decades. Hailing from Illinois, Krueger honed his skills under the guidance of Jay Bennett in Louisiana, eventually establishing himself as the unquestionable greatest water ski jumper of all time.

Over an illustrious career, Krueger has won a remarkable five World Championships, including four consecutive titles from 2007 to 2013. Impressively, he featured on every World Championships jump podium from 1999 to 2013 until an injury kept him from the 2015 event. He has broken the world jump record eight times, reigning as the record-holder for an impressive twelve and a half years. In addition, Krueger holds the world ski fly record as the first (and only) man to jump over 300 feet.

Announcing his arrival onto the professional scene in 1995 on the Budweiser Water Ski Tour, Krueger won two tour stops in his debut season. While he remained a contender through the late 1990s, it was the new millennium that witnessed Krueger’s true ascent. In 2002, he claimed the top spot on the elite rankings, a distinction he held for an unparalleled 11 consecutive seasons from 2004 to 2014. In a memorable achievement, Krueger matched Mapple’s record of 14 U.S. Masters titles in 2021. Proving his versatility, he has attained victories all around the world, conquering both perfect man-made lakes and challenging, spectator-friendly venues like Robin Lake and the Yarra River. A battle-hardened professional, Krueger holds the night jumping record and is known for his one-and-done victories as a frequent top seed.

When it comes to challenging Andy Mapple’s status as the GOAT, few skiers possess a resume as impressive as the Nightmare, Freddy Krueger.

Honorable Mentions:

Glenn Thurlow

Thurlow holds the distinction of being the first man to jump 200 feet. In addition, he achieved four podium finishes at the World Championships from 1977 to 1985, multiple Moomba Masters titles, and a sole tour stop victory on the Coors Light Water Ski Tour, on which he was a mainstay.

Geoff Carrington

A two-time world jump champion in 1985 and 1989, and a Moomba Masters champion, Carrington was a regular on the pro tour until his tragic accident in 1990. Had his career continued throughout the 1990s he may well have ended up on this list.

Jimmy Siemers

His greatest achievements came in the overall event, but Siemers was also a two-time world record holder in jump and overtook Freddy Krueger and Jaret Llewellyn as the no.1 ranked elite jumper in 2003.

Ricky McCormick

Claiming water skiing’s sole Olympic gold medal in the jump event at the 1972 Munich Olympics, he was also the 1973 world jump champion. McCormick may be the most viewed jumper of all time, as he was the stunt double for Henry Winkler when the Fonz jumped the shark on Happy Days.

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Travis Anderson
9 months ago

Great list of great jumpers!

9 months ago

Well what about Lucky? Hard to see this list without him

Captain Brooka
9 months ago

I saw Bruce Neville win the World Championship at Roquebrune ,France in 1995 , Emma Shears and Jaret llewellyn break jump records at Golden Falls 96 Paddy Jump Classic ,and to top it all I was lucky enough to spend time with these outstanding athletes, all great people ta boot , and I have picttk remind me of a wonderful time.

Tom Harpell
9 months ago

Kyle Eade should be on that list.